(St. Lucia News Online) — Probably a lot of Saint Lucians have not heard the name Flore Bois Gaillard but her name has gone down in history in association with the Battle of Rabot which took place in 1745 in Soufriere.
According to an article published on Face2Face Africa, Gaillard was an enslaved mulatto who worked for her owner Master Bellac, for several years on his plantation.
She later worked in his home as a maidservant when she was a little older.
“There are no found records about her early childhood, however, it is safe to say that being a mulatto, she was born on the island to an enslaved black mother who was impregnated by a white man,” the article said.
In 1791, enslaved Africans teamed up with the Maroons in Soufrière, which at that time served as the capital of Saint Lucia, to march and request their freedom from British slave owners.
But things did not go as planned and the march was immediately reported to the British officials who ordered the leaders to be captured.
The article stated that the leaders were captured and tortured to death. Their heads were cut off and placed on spikes and displayed around Soufriere to serve as a warning to others who planned on doing the same thing.
But the incident was not forgotten and many slaves planned and hoped for revenge.
In 1773, after having enough of the harsh treatment and several rape incidents with her owner, Gaillard managed to escape from the plantation and took refuge in the woods, the article said.
There she met several Maroons and began living with them.
She quickly rose as the military leader for the French Army of the Woods, a rebel group made up of Maroons and slaves who met secretly to plan a rebellion and declare Saint Lucia a free country after getting rid of the British.
On April 11, 1795, Gaillard and her army went to Soufriere to attack slave owners which is known as the Battle of Rabot.
The Face2Face Africa articles said the battle was successful in killing several British slave owners, burning down plantations and freeing several slaves who later joined the army which became known as the Brigands.
Gaillard then went to kill her former master and burn down his plantation, while the remaining British fled to Castries.
But it was not over for Gaillard, with the support of the French politician and colonial administrator Jean-Baptiste Victor Hugues, she and her army joined the First Brigands War.
This saw the total defeat of the British on June 19, 1795, and led to them completely leaving Saint Lucia marking the year of liberation (l’Année de la Liberté) for all blacks on the island.
Nothing was recorded about Gaillard after the war, and it is unknown whether she died in battle or escaped.